+
empaths, dr. judith orloff, psychology

The many faces of an empath.

A few years ago I had an office job where I sat in a row of cubicles with about a dozen other people. One morning when a coworker walked into the office to start his day, a feeling of dread bubbled up from my subconscious. He was angry and I wasn’t going to be able to escape his feelings.

His desk was about 10 feet from mine and like waves, I could feel his emotions seeping into my body. He wasn’t bothering anyone and was always pleasant to me, but I knew he was angry about something deep down, and I could feel it.

As far as I knew, no one else in the office was having the same experience that I was. I was the only person who found it emotionally exhausting to be in the same room as this person.

I wasn’t sure what to make of this bizarre, unintentional attachment to the emotional states of others until I was listening to a podcast featuring Dr. Drew Pinksy where he mentioned that he was “an emotional sponge” who sucks up other people’s emotions and referred to it as being an “empath.”


That powerful revelation struck me in two ways. I realized that I was probably an empath as well and that I experience emotions differently than others. "One of the hardest things about being an empath is learning not everyone is,” Hannah Ewens at Vice wrote.

PsychAlive describes being an empath as exhausting at times, but not without its benefits.

“Empaths are highly sensitive individuals, who have a keen ability to sense what people around them are thinking and feeling. … often to the point of taking on the pain of others at their own expense,” PsychAlive says.

“On the bright side, empaths tend to be excellent friends,” PsychAlive continues. “They are superb listeners. They consistently show up for friends in times of need. They are big-hearted and generous. Empaths also tend to be highly intuitive and emotionally intelligent.”

via Pexels

As I started to look into the idea that I may be an empath, I began to consider the emotional sway my wife has over me. If she is stressed or tired, it makes me uncomfortable because I cannot escape her emotional state. It’s not that she’s overly emotional, but that I lack the force field that shields me from people’s emotional states, especially people close to me.

That’s why I get a huge feeling of relief when my wife transitions from being in a negative mood to a positive one. But, on the other hand, she doesn’t seem to be swayed one way or the other by my emotional state. It’s not that she’s callous, it’s just that she has a healthy emotional distance from me.

The problem is that it's nearly impossible to explain what this feels like to someone who isn’t an empath, and attempting to do so makes me seem a little unstable. So I keep these disturbances to myself, which probably isn’t healthy.

Caroline Van Kimmenade, who runs courses for empaths who want to understand their power, explained what it’s like to be an empath. "It's like a football match where everyone gets hyped up and starts waving and then the mob things start sweeping you up, and you barely know you're doing it," she explained.

"We can all experience that, but it doesn't mean you're an empath. But for an empath, it's that multiplied and applied to everything all of the time. Empaths are constantly in a giant football stadium where they're reacting to bigger things going on from all directions,” said Van Kimmenade.

When I realized I was an empath it helped me make sense of a part of myself that always felt contradictory. I am a person who has no problem being alone for long periods of time, but I’m also totally comfortable in social situations.

Tod Perry's solitary workspace.

via Upworthy

I work for Upworthy as a writer and the host of its podcast, “Upworthy Weekly,” and do it all from home. Honestly, I love being alone all day because I have a lot more power over my own emotional state than when I'm in an office getting bombarded by other people’s “stuff.”

I also enjoy going to movies, concerts and bars alone, too.

On the other hand, I am an extrovert who’s very comfortable in social situations. Empaths can be very social people because they have the superpower of being attuned to others' emotions and they have a great intuition for other people. We are experts at reading the room and are great at relating to all sorts of people.

Dr. Judith Orloff, the author of “The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People,” says that extroverted empaths “crave the dopamine rush from lively events. In fact, they can’t get enough of it.”

One of the strangest things about being an empath is having a heightened sense of smell. My sense of smell is so keen that I can’t wear cologne because I never go nose blind to the scent and it’ll bother me the whole night. The same goes for scented lotions. The interesting thing is that this isn’t just in my head; researchers have found that the part of the brain that recognizes emotions overlaps with the brain areas associated with smell.

So what causes someone to be an empath?

“It can be both nature and nurture. Some empaths are born empaths the minute they come out of the womb they are these sensitive creatures feeling the world with the palm of their hands,” Dr. Orloff told Upworthy.

Dr. Orloff says that research shows empaths have different brain chemistry.

“Research is suggesting that the mirror neuron system in the brain is on overdrive with empaths—meaning their compassion is hyperactive versus narcissists who have hypo-active mirror neurons and empathy deficient disorder,” Orloff said.

Orloff adds that even though men and women are both empaths, it can be harder for men to come to terms with their sensitivity. She runs an empath support community where men are much more reluctant to share.

“When the men do share, they express the shame about being sensitive, how it isn't masculine and how they were bullied as children and made to feel ashamed to be crybabies rather than beautiful sensitive beings,” Orloff told Upworthy.

I had never heard of the term empath until about five years ago, but after coming to the realization that I probably am one and learning about the positive and negative aspects of this psychological trait, I feel that I’ve become better at navigating my emotional life. I'm getting better at seeing the difference between my emotions and those of others and making sense of the difference.

On the positive side, I’ve developed greater trust in my own intuition knowing that, as an empath, when I get a sense about someone, I should go with it because there’s a good chance I’m right. I’ve also learned to be less judgmental of those around me who I think aren’t as sensitive as they should be. They’re just not experiencing life the same way.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

popular

Woman left at the altar by her fiance decided to 'turn the day around’ and have a wedding anyway

'I didn’t want to remember the day as complete sadness.'

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

Keep ReadingShow less
via LinkedIn

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


A dad from Portland, Oregon, has taken to LinkedIn to write an emotional plea to parents after he learned that his son had died during a conference call at work. J.R. Storment, of Portland, Oregon, encouraged parents to spend less time at work and more time with their kids after his son's death.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

Grab your boost of serotonin here.

Polina Tankilevitch/Canva

Upworthy's weekly roundup of joy.

Holy moly—it's fall, y'all!

As pumpkin spice swoops in and we start unpacking our cozy sweaters and cute boots, we can practically taste the seasonal change in the air. Fall is filled with so many small joys—the fresh, crisp smell of apples, the beauty of the leaves as they shift from greens to yellows, oranges and reds, the way the world gets wrapped in a warm glow even as the air grows cooler.

Part of what makes the beauty of fall unique is that it's fleeting. Mother Nature puts on a vibrant show as she sheds what no longer serves her, inviting us to revel in her purposeful self-destruction. It's a gorgeous example of not only embracing change, but celebrating it.

Keep ReadingShow less